Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has accused the government of trying to cloud and camouflage the underfunding of Health.
Questioning the Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, Teachta Conway-Walsh raised the fact that the total amount set aside to meet standstill costs for the budget as a whole had been cut by €500 million between when the budget parameters were announced in July and Budget Day in October.
Speaking after the debate, Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“Minister Donohoe’s explanation simply does not add up.
“In July it was announced that an additional €2.3 billion was needed across departments to meet standstill costs. The cost of providing the same level of service without any improvements or new measures.
“By Budget Day in October, this amount was cut down to €1.8 billion.
“That decision meant there was never going to be enough to address the funding needs of Health. Yet, the government gave no explanation and tried to brush it under the carpet.
“I gave Minister Donohoe an opportunity today to clarify how this was justified.
“He claimed that this was the result of Ministers and Departments outlining a lower-than-anticipated need for funding.
“He is asking us to believe that the feedback from Ministers, including the Minister for Health, led them to believe that a lower level of funding was needed in a time of high inflation.
“That is simply not credible.
“Sinn Féin in our alternative budget set aside an additional €500 million for standstill costs. That is what a responsible approach to the budget requires to maintain the current levels of service.”